06-16-2005, 10:30 AM
Danny “Little Red” Lopez Fought Out of LA

by Robert Mladinich

Few people will argue that former WBC featherweight champion Danny “Little Red” Lopez was one of the most popular fighters of the seventies. A former dead-end kid who had been shuttled from one foster home to another, he found his salvation as a boxer. Of Irish, Mexican and Native American ancestry, Lopez, who fought out of Los Angeles, was the ultimate crowd-pleaser.

As his final ledger of 42-6 (39 KOs) will attest, he could bang with both hands. But what made him most popular was the fact that he got knocked down with regularity. However, in almost all of those cases he roared back to knock out his opponent in the very same or the next round.

“Danny Lopez was Matthew Saad Muhammad before there was a Matthew Saad Muhammad,” said Showtime boxing analyst Steve Farhood. “He was as hard a puncher as I’ve ever seen in the featherweight division. He was also very slow, and was always getting off the floor to win, which made for great television fights. If he could hit you, there was nobody he couldn’t take out.”

“I only knew how to fight one way,” said the 5’8” Lopez, who will turn 53 in July but still looks like he could make the featherweight limit. “I was very busy and always tried to come forward. I kept myself in good shape, so my stamina was never a problem. I’d just keep punching until I knocked my opponent out.”

Among the championship caliber opponents Lopez did beat early in his career, which began in May 1971, was the previously undefeated Sean O’Grady, who he stopped in four rounds in February 1976, and Ruben Olivares who he stopped in seven.

He was also stopped in nine by another red-hot California prospect, Bobby “Schoolboy” Chacon, in May 1974. More than 16,000 fans turned out for that bout, which took place at the Los Angeles Sports Arena.*
In late November 1976 Lopez won the title by beating David Kotey in the champion’s hometown of Accra, Ghana, by a 15-round unanimous decision. Lopez was so revved up for that fight, he was oblivious to the 120,000 fans in attendance who were cheering on their local hero. The fight took place in a soccer stadium that usually accommodated 80,000 people.
“I didn’t let it bother me a bit,” said Lopez. “I have a very strong character, and a will to survive. That’s what made me a good boxer. It didn’t matter where I went to win that title. I was going to bring it home. In Ghana there were about 15 or so Marines and people from the Peace Corps [in the arena]. They were the only people rooting for me. I was never so exhausted in my life as I was after that fight.”

Lopez would make eight defenses of his title, seven of which he won by knockout, the other by disqualification. In June 1979, in his seventh defense, he stopped Mike Ayala in the 15th round of the The RING magazine’s Fight of the Year.*

Lopez was dethroned by the late, great Salvador Sanchez, who scored a 13th round TKO in February 1980. Four months later, Lopez hung up the gloves, presumably for good, after being stopped by Sanchez in the 14th round of their rematch.

He had one comeback fight in 1992, scoring a third round knockout over Jorge Rodriguez, and then hung up the gloves for good. He has never looked back.

“Twice I fought Sanchez, who was a great fighter, no doubt,” said Lopez. “But more people remember the fight with Ayala than the two with Sanchez.”

Lopez, a self-described troubled youth who spent much of his childhood in Utah before moving to California as a teenager, began boxing when he followed his brother, welterweight Ernie “Indian Red” Lopez, to the gym. Indian Red was seven years older than his kid brother, who worshipped him.*

Indian Red would go on to have a respectable pro career. In compiling a* 47-13-1 (23 KOs) record, he beat Hedgemon Lewis two out of three times, but was stopped twice in title fights with Jose Napoles. He also lost to such fistic luminaries as Emile Griffith, Armando Muniz and John H. Stracey.

“Ernie was always my big brother, he still is,” said Little Red. “I really looked up to him and wanted to do what he did. That’s how I got interested in boxing. It turned out to be a very good thing for me.”

After his career ended in 1974, Indian Red hit the skids. His marriage dissolved and he was living with the daily weight of regret. He began drifting around the country, and Little Red got used to getting sporadic calls from him from all over the country.

One month it might be New York. Six months later it would be Texas, Denver, Montana or Florida. One day the calls stopped, and Little Red didn’t hear his brother’s voice, or anything else about him, for ten years.

“It was rough,” said Little Red. “We made a lot of calls, but couldn’t find anything out. Of course, I assumed the worst, but always held out hope that he’d come back, that he was alright.”

“Danny is a great brother, just like he’s a great father,” said Little Red’s wife Bonnie, a personnel clerk in the Walnut Valley Unified School District, not far from where the Lopez’s reside in San Bernardino County, California. “He was real close with Ernie, and then he just disappeared. It was rough for everyone in the family.”

The story had a surprisingly happy ending when a Los Angeles detective tracked Indian Red down to a Fort Worth homeless shelter, where he possessed nothing more than the clothes on his back. When he was* reunited with his ex-wife, he learned that he had more grandchildren than he remembered and that he was about to be inducted into the California Boxing Hall of Fame.*

“It was like he came back from the dead,” said Little Red. “It was good to have him back.”

While Indian Red had trouble dealing with the stresses of daily life, and he often escaped them by going on the road, his younger brother is the picture of stability. Working in construction, where he lays pipe and digs ditches, Lopez still looks incredibly fit. His voice is raspy, which he attributes to boxing, but his faculties are intact. It is obvious that he and Bonnie, who met as teenagers when she babysat Indian Red’s children, adore each other. He calls her the “wind beneath my wings.”*

They have three children. Bronson, 32, is a field manager for a national food chain, and Jeremy and Dylan, 30 and 26 respectively, are both warehousemen.

“Danny was a wonderful fighter, and he is a wonderful father and grandfather,” said Bonnie. “He was always coaching Little League or taking the kids fishing. He had a difficult childhood, and didn’t want them to go through the same thing.”

She still marvels at how accommodating he is to his fans, and how much he seems to genuinely appreciate their support. This was clearly evident at this year’s Hall of Fame induction weekend in Canastota, New York. Lopez was mobbed everywhere he went. He declined no requests for autographs or photos, and was more than happy to exchange chitchat with each and every one of his stalwart fans.

Asked if he ever tired of hearing he was so many people’s favorite fighter of a bygone era, he just laughed. “I’ll never get tired of hearing that,” he said. “It’s great to know that I left an impression.”

06-16-2005, 01:32 PM
Cyber Boxing Champion
Danny "Little Red" Lopez

Born: July 6, 1952 Fort Duchesne, UT

Pro Record: 42-6 (39 kayos)

May 27 Steve Flajole Los Angeles KO 1
Jun 17 Fili Castro Los Angeles KO 1
Jul 9 Mauro Olivares Los Angeles KO 1
Jul 29 Jose Luis Estrada Los Angeles KO 2
Aug 12 Modesto Ortiz Los Angeles KO 4
Sep 16 Rafael Lopez Los Angeles KO 5
Oct 14 Frank Granados Los Angeles KO 2
Nov 18 Marcarito Rios Los Angeles KO 1
Jan 20 Jose Orantes Los Angeles KO 2
Feb 18 Rafael Lopez Los Angeles KO 2
Mar 10 Arturo Pineda Los Angeles KO 4
May 11 Jose Luis Valdovinos Los Angeles KO 4
Jul 20 Benny Rodriguez Los Angeles KO 1
Jul 28 Yoshinabu Goto Los Angeles KO 8
Oct 19 Jorge Reyes Los Angeles KO 7

Feb 9 Jorge Carrasco Los Angeles KO 1
Mar 17 Kenji Endo Los Angeles KO 2
May 10 Cesar Ordunez Los Angeles KO 4
Jun 21 Juan Ordonez Los Angeles KO 4
Jul 31 Ushiwakamaru Harada Honolulu KO 3
Sep 27 Goyo Vargas Los Angeles KO 1

Jan 17 Genzo Kurosaw Los Angeles W 10
Feb 4 Memo Rodriguez Mexicali, Mexico KO 10
May 24 Bobby Chacon Los Angeles KO by 9
Aug 8 Masano Toyoshima Los Angeles KO 3
Sep 9 Shig Fukuyama Los Angeles KO by 9
Jan 18 Octavio Gomez Anaheim, CA L 10
Apr 24 Chucho Castillo Los Angeles KO 2
Jul 26 Raul Cruz Los Angeles KO 6
Sep 13 Antonio Nava Los Angeles KO 6
Dec 4 Ruben Olivares Inglewood, CA KO 7

Feb 25 Sean O'Grady Inglewood, CA KO 4
Apr 28 Octavio Gomez Inglewood, CA KO 3
Aug 6 Art Hafey Inglewood, CA KO 7
Nov 5 David Kotey Accra, Ghana W 15
(Wins WBC Featherweight Title)
Gains World Title After Arguello Moves Up to Jr. Lightweight

Jul 29 Jose Olivares Sacramento KO 2
Aug 28 Jorge Altamirano Stateline, NV KO 6
Sep 13 Jose Torres Los Angeles KO 7
(Retains World Featherweight Title)

Feb 15 David Kotey Las Vegas KO 6
(Retains World Featherweight Title)
Apr 22 Jose DePaula Los Angeles KO 6
(Retains World Featherweight Title)
Sep 15 Juan Malvarez New Orelans KO 2
(Retains World Featherweight Title)
Oct 21 Fel Clemente Pesaro, Italy WDQ 4
(Retains World Featherweight Title)

Mar 10 Roberto Castanon Salt Lake City KO 2
(Retains World Featherweight Title)
Jun 17 Mike Ayala San Antonio KO 15
(Retains World Featherweight Title)
Sep 25 Jose Caba Los Angeles KO 3
(Retains World Featherweight Title)

Feb 2 Salvador Sanchez Phoenix KO by 13
(Loses World Featherweight Title)
Jun 21 Salvador Sanchez Las Vegas KO by 14
(For World Featherweight Title)

Did not fight

Feb 27 Jorge Rodriguez Irvine, CA KO by 3

06-16-2005, 03:29 PM
My Favorite Fighter from the 1970's.

06-16-2005, 03:57 PM
In fairness to Danny "Little Red" Lopez, he did
NOT just stand there and take punishment like
Mathew Saad Muhammad for the first few
rounds. While it is true that Lopez was easy
to hit, especially with right leads to the jaw,
he would do his best to end a bout as quickly
as he could arrange it.

- Chuck Johnston

Roberto Aqui
06-16-2005, 05:04 PM
I read about Lopez for a year before I caught a bout on TV. Maybe it was Jose Depaula, but the guy just pasted Lopez right and left. I was really disappointed given the small captions I had read which described Lopez as an exciting champ.

Finally the guy drops Lopez and I figure the fight can't go much more than a minute. So the fighter is in the process of polishing off Lopez and (((BooM))), a straight right flashes out and drops the guy quivering on the canvas like a sack of jelly.

I'm not an emotional guy, nor do I curse, but I spontaneously lept from the chair and shot out a stream of profanities and paced around the living room like a tiger. The poor guy was out for several minutes and maybe they even carted him off on a stretcher. Can you imagine just battering the champ around the ring in a laughable title fight and suddenly waking up and find out it had been nothing but a goofy dream and horrible headache?

Li'l Red did the same thing in New Orleans on the Ali/Spinks undercard. The guy sitting next to me said "Who's these guys?" So I told him how good Lopez was and damned if he didn't go get knocked down 3Xs by the early part of the 2nd and I'm sitting there looking like a fool and then (((Boom))), it's all over and everybody's screaming and Lopez is doing his war dance in that war bonnet. I thought that poor guy, Malverez, was dead.

I've got the SI cover of Li'l Red on my wallpaper so I see him everyday when I boot up the computer. Hope to meet him one day. That was a great article and maybe Lopez can get out more.

06-30-2005, 03:57 PM
I think that it was REAL SPORTS that had a
segment on Danny Lopez and Bobby Chacon
within the last few years. Everybody knows
that Bobby Chacon has had a rough time
largely due to severe brain damage. It is
true that Lopez had a very stable life after
his days as a boxer. As noted before, he
is a father and a grandfather with a stable
family life. Moreover, Lopez lives in
comfortable circumstances and works
on construction jobs.

But I was alarmed because it seemed that
Lopez was slurring his words at times when
he was talking. I hope that I am wrong.

I saw Lopez fight in person and on television.
Yes, he was one thrilling fighter who gave
one hundred percent every time he stepped
into the ring.

- Chuck Johnston

06-30-2005, 03:58 PM
without doubt my all time favorite.

i saw danny fight as an amateur and was in attendance at the olympic for his first pro bout. he knocked out steve frajole in 1 round and was an immediate hit in L.A. danny and tury "the fury" pineda were both punchers on a collision course. neither were close to having 20 pro fights under their belts but that made no difference to the sell out crowd that saw that fight and the old olympic auditorium. for all intent and purpose danny ruined pineda that nite and went on to give hardened fans their moneys worth.

the loss to bobby chacon lead his management to try and reinvent the lopez style. this only lead to danny's clumsily losing to octavio gomez and then shig fukuyama. after these losses the reinvention was scrapped and danny went back to the philosohpy that a strong offence is the best defence, for him anyway.

a sports writer in L.A. once said that danny usually planned his ko's from the seat of his pants. you could out box lopez all nite long but when you went in to get him you usually got got.

the chacon and sanchez fights were just the case of losing to better fighters. danny never beat himself, at least not until his comeback in the 90's. contrary to the above story danny was ko'd in that one. at 39 he had no bussiness in the ring. it was always my belief that danny never wanted to retire after the sanchez defeats but just went along with benny georgino's wishes that he not go on. that nagging doubt got to him and he came back way too late. i saw all of his fights, saw him train and spoke with him many times. a finer gentleman of this rough sport you could never find. that last fight broke my heart. it came after i ran into danny on an L.A. jobsite. he said he was happy working a job that kept him in shape without having to take any punches. i guess he was still a fighter though.

i am glad to hear he is doing well. if you ever met this guy you could not help but love him.

the story of the lopez brothers would make for a great movie. one i always hoped would be made.

06-30-2005, 04:38 PM
thanks for article.... excellent read...

I was lucky growing up getting to see little red in his prime on tv a lot... great era for the lighter weights extending well into the '80's...

little red when down truely was never out... like his personal life, he always seemed to have this 6th sense of presence & grounding, regardless of how rocky the fight looked for him...

best power from a skinny frame of any boxer i've ever seen w/ the exception of perhaps hearns & fitzsimmons... probaly more like the latter b/c unlike hearns his legs could find solid footing even after getting rocked...

great to hear he and his wife have done well & have raised a solid family w/ all the blessings of grandchildren & love coming back his way...

i remember in his prime, Sports Illustrated doing a piece on him... and he truely sounds like the same guy today... confident but humble... self tough but very gracious... and very devoted to his wife & respecting his winnings in the ring.

06-30-2005, 07:35 PM
Greg- That was a great post in regards to Danny
"Little Red" Lopez. In regards to Lopez getting
back into the ring after the bouts with Salvador
Sanchez, it may be that he could have continued
with his career instead of retiring. As for me, i
was happy to see him retire at the time.
Although he may have had some regrets, the
retirement may have turned out for the best
even though he later made an ill-considered
comeback. After all, it is better for your health
that you retire too soon in boxing rather than
getting out when it is too late.

- Chuck Johnston

07-01-2005, 04:02 PM
you are right about his retirement. had he gone on at jr. lightweight he would have had bazooka limon and alexis arguello in his future. both those fights scared me for danny.

danny is living proof of how far hard work and dedication can take a man. when he first arrived at the main st. gym danny did not know his right from his left and usually would trip trying to figure it out. gradually he became the dead game warrior that earned the adoration of fans world wide. sometimes the measure of a man is better determined by the depths from which he came rather than the heights he acheived. danny climbed that ladder with more grace than he ever showed in the ring. reservation poor to the cover of sports illustrated without ever uttering a cocky phase or belittling anyone along the way...what more can you ask?

06-06-2006, 12:22 PM

06-06-2006, 04:04 PM

HE Grant
06-07-2006, 07:59 AM
Lot's of great moments frm Danny...a hell of a exciting fighter ...great night on the Ali/Spinks undercard in New Orleans where he got off the floor to ice his opponent with one tremendous shot,,,I remember how he wowed the crowd with that one !!!

06-07-2006, 08:19 AM
From the IBHOF 2005 Induction Weekend:
Little Red Danny Lopez with wife, Bonnie

06-07-2006, 08:33 AM

Great pic., but you need to strink your files down a bit.


06-07-2006, 08:46 AM
It's not my file. I was fooled because it was resized using HTML on the site I found it (e.g. <img src='...' width=100 height=200>). This means that the file takes just as long to download but you only see it at the reduced size - the worst of all possible worlds! Anyway, I'll take a copy, resize it properly and upload it to my own image store.

Edit: Done now

06-07-2006, 08:57 AM
Now thats much better


06-14-2006, 02:39 PM

Albert Davila, Manager Bennie Georgino, and Danny Lopez

06-28-2006, 12:26 PM

Danny "LiL Red" Lopez

06-28-2006, 01:52 PM
wonder if danny still has that head dress...that would be quite a thing where i live now. the tribes up here old a lot of faith in eagle feathers. must be worth a fortune now.

Ron Lipton
06-28-2006, 03:15 PM
What a wonderful, brave fighter he was.

I always liked Danny tremendously.

God Bless him, it was fantastic to see that picture of him as he is today.

Does anyone from the West Coast, know what kind of guy Danny was outside the ring, to his fans, to the public, was he as nice a guy as I think he is?

What is he doing today for a living? Hope he is doing well.

If anyone ever sees him, please for me tell him one of his biggest fans was referee Ron Lipton.



06-29-2006, 01:43 AM
Was there ever a more exciting fighter in boxing? Pity the man who knocked Lopez down!

06-29-2006, 07:29 PM

i think i posted this before the site was hacked but danny was one of the friendliest champs you could ever want to meet. what i liked about danny was that when a fan aproached him he not only took the time to shake thier hand but always asked what their names were.

a devoted husband and father who came from a tough start and a broken home, danny made sure his family stuck together.

i ran into danny many times after his championship days, once on a job site we were both working on in L.A. and it was the same old humble danny lopez. my favorite fighter and one of my favorite people.

08-27-2006, 11:36 PM

Danny Lopez-Tury Pineda

08-28-2006, 07:00 AM
my god zevi, where do you get these photos. i have not seen danny standing over a downed pineda since the night it happened. i have searched in hope that i might find that film.

passed saturday i sat across from danny and had a chance to ask of tury pineda. i was told by an old friend of harry kabakoff that tury drank himself to death 3 years ago. can't help but think that danny's potent punches led to that sad demise.

08-28-2006, 07:11 AM
just to add. i was at the main st. gym a few days before this fight and saw an angry howie steindler chasing danny into the showers worried that danny was severly underweight and over trained for this bout. has that was happening kabakoff was holding his right side in mock grimace of what was about to happen to danny when pineda landed that hook to the body.

pineda was in the ring throwing that hook at a spar mate and looking like ruben oliveras. i feared for danny in this fight. little did i know that he had the answer for that ruben like hook....few years later he proved it against rock-a -bye ruben himself. danny seldom gets the credit he deserves....god i wish i could find that fight.

08-28-2006, 07:58 AM


Another one for you, Greg!

08-28-2006, 05:19 PM
thanx zevi.

11-13-2006, 12:01 PM


11-13-2006, 12:26 PM

Eileen Eaton and Danny Lopez

11-13-2006, 12:45 PM

11-13-2006, 12:47 PM

Palomino, Eaton, Lopez, and Sandoval